Mae Muller‘s debut album Sorry I’m Late suggests the North London star isn’t very punctual. So I started our recent Instagram Live by asking Mae what delayed her. “I was busy slaying,” the 26-year-old says from the offices of her record label Universal. “I was just busy being a girl.”
She was busy writing songs too — and not just “I Wrote A Song,” which endeared her to millions at Eurovision. Her album includes 18 tracks, which cover topics from the pressures of ageing to breakups where no one actually did anything wrong.
She hopes that latter track — it’s called “Nervous” — will become a fan favourite.
“I’ve never released anything like that before. It’s such a balance between heartfelt — but also having drive and a beat. It’s thought-provoking in a way.”
“I tend to write a lot about relationships and boys being rubbish. This song was kind of like that feeling you get when after you’ve had so many toxic situations and once you kind of do find something pure and honest and safe and it’s not toxic, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what it’s meant to feel like and I am worthy of love. It kind of makes me feel like a kid again. It’s a naive feeling and you want to stay there. I wanted to write something less doom and gloom and more hopeful.”
Writing the album didn’t have a start date or an end date. It flowed organically over many years and many tears.
“I think I wrote the first song five years ago and from then I just kept on writing and kept on writing. And then I suddenly was like, ‘OMG I have all these songs and I can hear the journey I’ve been on.’ It wasn’t until I wrote ‘I Wrote A Song’ that I thought I had finished the album, but then I was like, ‘That’s the last one.'”
“There’s a song for everybody on there and a song for every mood. I’ve got the bad bitch bops, we’ve got some sad breakup songs, but we’ve got the breakup bops as well. There’s melancholy and you can think and look out of the window [when you hear it].”
Mae’s Eurovision entry had her raging at an ex. But what about when your ex hasn’t done anything wrong? Enter the tender, “I Wish I Could Hate You.”
“It was easy in that the lyrics came easily, but emotionally it was difficult because it was about a breakup and it was quite recent after the breakup. I kinda wore myself out by writing about this situation, so I thought maybe I’ll write about it from his perspective, which really fucked me up. And I’m so happy I did it because it brought something else out of me.”
“Writing from his perspective, my perspective also came out. Sometimes when you fall out of love with someone that’s the only reason the relationship ends…..I don’t feel like I’ve been done dirty, I just feel sad.”
It’s not all about relationships though. “Miss America” is “about the pressures of being a woman and being an artist and the pressure of trying to exist in this world.”
“I feel like especially for women there is so much shame and guilt put on ageing…I’ve had botox and I’m 26 and I’ll do it again. But why do I feel like I’m doing something wrong by getting older?”
The cover art for Mae’s album — and the promo that has followed — features her at a table that smacks of The Last Supper. But it took her a while to arrive at the visuals.
“I really struggled to think of an album title. I had all the songs, but I was like, what am I calling it? The second I called it Sorry I’m Late, that’s when all these creative ideas started flowing.”
“The cover art is a scene where I can arrive. I’m arriving at this new chapter, this new era. And I’ve always loved the idea of having multiple characters that can all be me but also relate to a song, something we can play around with visually.”
“Altogether there are 15 characters and they all represent a song on the album. I wrote each song down and I kind of brainstormed what do they look like, what are their characteristics, what do they look like? Is it powerful? Is it intimidating? It was so much fun.”
“They represent different parts of her and what it’s taken to get here, how everything at this table can get living together.”
Mae Muller’s album Sorry I’m Late is available now on all streaming platforms.